A Note from Emile Kurilof
Had Emily attended Kinderland she would have been in the class of 1975.
Her mother was Ruth Benn and her grandmother was Leah Hasenberg Benn, both of whom attended Kinderland.
I am 47 years old, but I did not go to Kinderland, but to Trywoodie.
My parents did not send me or my sister to Kinderland because at the time
they felt the facility was not in great shape. I wish they HAD sent me, because
I might have learned some Yiddish. They never taught me themselves because,
as in most families, they relied on the native tongue when discussing topics
they didn't want us kids to hear about. Yiddish was actually my mom's first language,
although she was born in the Bronx! My grandmother read me I.L. Peretz in English as
bedtime stories, but she did teach me Yiddish songs, which I know by heart, but I don't always know what the words mean.
I did see the website with the old pictures, and I think I made out my grandma Leah in the Kinderland chorus,
but I am not sure. I would be thrilled if someone does remember them. I miss them so much, and the wonderful
world they represent to me.
When my mom was sick and dying of heart disease in the hospital she befriended a homeless young woman
with kidney failure. Despite my mother's fragile state and almost constant pain, she mobilized the hospital
to provide this woman services because she was obviously being neglected, and wrote a letter accusing the staff
of racism and preoccupation with money. Then she gave the woman her shoes and coat because they discharged her
back to the street.
When I was a little girl my grandmother was taking me on a walk in our Queens neighborhood and she
spotted a store owner wearing a Yamulke hitting a homeless african american man who was loitering
in front of his store. My 4 foot 10 grandma ran up to the man and grabbed his hand, told him to stop
hitting the guy, that he was obviously sick and homeless, and told him that he should be ashamed to do
such a thing when he was clearly identifying himself as a jew. She cursed at him in Yiddish and told him
he was a shanda.( OF course she later whispered to me that religious observance did this to people).
I think my family thought that the rich tradition of eastern european Jewish art, music, and political
activism would never die, but it did. I try to teach it to my kids, but I don't really think they get it.
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